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Posted at 8:55 PM ET, 01/ 8/2011

Some thoughts on the shooting in Arizona

By Ezra Klein

This week, Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was slain, allegedly by one of his own bodyguards. A few months earlier, he had controversially stood by Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for "blaspheming" the name of the prophet Muhammad in an argument with Muslim fieldworkers. A subsequent investigation found the charges were the trumped-up result of "religious and personal enmity," and Taseer refused to let them stand. So his own bodyguard allegedly took him down, shooting Taseer 26 times and then calmly turning himself in to the police.

In Pakistan, the next time a political leader attempts to stand up for an unpopular position, or a religious minority, the image of Taseer will be foremost in his mind. And that was the point: Violence can be a calculated tool used by organized parties or groups to eliminate politicians, win elections and scare people away from certain positions. But that does not seem to be what happened today in Arizona.

From what we know, or think we know, Jared Loughner, the suspected shooter, was mentally ill. This was not an organized act of political violence, or even a rational one. Loughner's statements were clearly insane, and though his ravings contained some political content, it is not political content that either side of the spectrum would easily recognize as their own. "I'm able to control every belief and religion by being the mind-controller" does not appear in the platforms of either party, for instance.

In the first hours after the shooting, however, we didn't know that. And it was scarily easy to tell a story in which an upset citizen had taken the exhortations various political leaders had made in recent years too literally. A lot of the attention focused on Sarah Palin's call to "Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: Don't retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!" That was linked to a map in which gunsights were placed on the districts of various vulnerable Democrats. One of them was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's. "It's time to take a stand" was written across the top of the map. But Palin wasn't alone in using violent imagery and rhetoric to rouse her supporters.

Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R), in a January radio interview, warned that "if Congress keeps it up, people may find themselves resorting to Second Amendment remedies." Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) said she wanted Minnesotans "armed and dangerous" in opposition to cap-and-trade. Jesse Kelly, who ran against Giffords in 2010, held a gun-themed fundraiser. The pitch read: "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office, shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly."

I'm not suggesting that any of these individuals really meant to advocate for acts of violence. In fact, I'm sure all of them are sick to their stomachs tonight. And there is, for us and for them, comfort that today's events do not seem to have been an act of calculated political intent so much as an act of mental derangement. But today's shooting was a reminder of what real political violence in this country could look like, and the awful recognition that it could've easily fit with comments made by trusted political figures should stop us cold. We're lucky to live in a country where political violence is rare. We're lucky that that doesn't appear to have changed. But that may be dumb luck that we're benefiting from. It is hard to look through those statements and believe that we're doing enough to keep our political system peaceful.

None of this, of course, will ease the suffering of Giffords or her family, nor of any of the other individuals and families directly affected by this morning's slaughter. For them, the process of grieving and recovering has barely begun. Loughner's shooting might've been motivated by mental illness, but the people in that parking lot were motivated by democracy: It was a meeting between a congressional representative and those she represents. They were attacked for being good citizens, and nothing can ever put that right.

But one way that people might pay tribute is to follow their example and attend the next meeting held by their representative. It is so easy and safe to participate in the American political system that we sometimes take doing so for granted. Today was a horrifying look into a world in which that isn't so, and it should leave us with renewed appreciation for, and determination to protect, the world we have. On this, Giffords was way ahead of us: When the 112th session of the House of Representatives convened to read the Constitution earlier this week, she chose to read the section guaranteeing Americans the right "peaceably to assemble." It's worth watching tonight:

By Ezra Klein  | January 8, 2011; 8:55 PM ET
 
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Next: What the shooting shouldn't change

Comments

>>'m not suggesting that any of these individuals really meant to advocate for any acts of violence. In fact, I'm sure all of them are sick to their stomachs tonight.>>

What possible basis do you have for either of these statements? All we have are people's words and deeds. We can't know what's in their thoughts.

Posted by: fuse | January 8, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Why not just say it directly: the rhetoric of the modern Republican party aids and fuels domestic terrorism in this country.

Posted by: hotdog3 | January 8, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Well said. I think it's safe to say that nearly all such acts of violence are committed by mentally unbalanced people. In the SF Bay Area we very nearly had a massacre at an obscure liberal foundation targeted by Glenn Beck because a crazy person took his words seriously. Prominent people, those people who can reach a mass audience, need to be aware that verbal flame throwing will result in this kind of act. With all the vitriol and nutty conspiracy theories swirling through the ether, assassination and massacre is bound to be attempted. If anything good can come out of this tragedy, I hope people will heed your plea and tone down the rhetoric.

Posted by: lkayed | January 8, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Why is it in this country that progressive people are always assassinated by "lunatics" steeped in fascism (read Tea Party politics). We can soon expect that tri-corner hats and corny George Washington suits with tea pots strapped on will be replaced on the streets by black shirts with side-arms and truncheons. Welcome to the new Republican Party.

Posted by: jeffl240 | January 8, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Well said. I think it's safe to say that nearly all such acts of violence are committed by mentally unbalanced people. In the SF Bay Area we very nearly had a massacre at an obscure liberal foundation targeted by Glenn Beck because a crazy person took his words seriously. Prominent people, those people who can reach a mass audience, need to be aware that verbal flame throwing will result in this kind of act. With all the vitriol and nutty conspiracy theories swirling through the ether, assassination and massacre is bound to be attempted. If anything good can come out of this tragedy, I hope people will heed your plea and tone down the rhetoric.

Posted by: lkayed | January 8, 2011 9:24 PM | Report abuse

What does "Optimistic" mean in terms of recovery from brain trauma?

I doubt it means she's going to be returning to work, ever.

It might mean she's expected to be able to see, hear, walk, and talk, or maybe just some of the above.

They are saying she was shot in the back of her head and the bullet went "through and through" (a medical term). So it either went through her face, or it went through her frontal lobe.

Could she end up like Phineas Gage?

Posted by: james0tucson | January 8, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing watching the right wing spin machine launch off in to overdrive, trying to reassign their Republican mass murderer colleague as a Marxist, Communist, Librul, Fascist, Nazi, you name it.

Posted by: DamOTclese | January 8, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't know -- Is this shooter really that different from Taseer's bodyguard? I don't have all the facts yet, of course, but it's entirely plausible that in both cases, we have an act of violence committed by a mentally unstable person with political motives. I would like to see a difference, but I don't know that I do.

Posted by: spekny | January 8, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

EK is spot on ... this was not a politically motivated act ... the rhetoric is too hot on BOTH sides ... give it a rest and say some prayers ... especially for that little girl ...

Posted by: cunn9305 | January 8, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Is this to say that shooting someone 26 times is the act of a sane person?

Posted by: Ulium | January 8, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

If you didn't want to suggest Palin and Angle are responsible why did you mention them?
Why didn't you mention Obama telling people to punish our enemies when he was talking talking about immigration and securing the border. Gifford was against Obama's border policies.

Posted by: tech1959 | January 8, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Being mentally ill is not a sufficient explanation. Why did this mentally ill person choose this congressman as a target? Why a politician at all, and why this one? Obviously, the inflammatory rhetoric claiming the country was being enslaved and suggesting armed response was needed provides the context in which this insane person acted. The violent rhetoric of the right does not need to be taken up by a "sane" individual before it has its vicious effect. Indeed the first whose actions are likely to be influenced by the atmosphere will be the most unstable individuals. You have no business letting the Republicans off the hook on this just because the shooter was crazy.

And I also agree with the other commenter, who asks how you can possibly make the statement that the Republicans who made the statements about guns and so forth are all sick to their stomachs tonight. That's a nice thing to believe, as is believing in Santa Claus, but I can't see that you have any reason or evidence behind that belief, just a wish to claim that the Republicans who said such horrible things must really be decent human beings deep inside. You don't know what they are inside. And you can't know. As that famous book says, you shall know them by their fruits. And this is the fruit of their labor.

Posted by: kenm3 | January 8, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Fox News is pretty disgusting.

Look what they managed to get into two paragraphs of the lead story on the shooting death of 6 people and the wounding of the Representative and 11 others:

"Giffords, known as a fiscally conservative Democrat and gun rights advocate, underwent surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center."

Then later on, same story:

"Giffords, a gun rights advocate, was first elected to Congress in 2006, when she rode a wave of Democratic victories. However, she separated herself from most in her caucus when she criticized President Obama last summer for not sending more National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border."

Why don't they just write:

"Giffords, who would have strongly favored gun ownership by the man who shot her."

Posted by: 54465446 | January 8, 2011 9:58 PM | Report abuse

The surviving victims ought sue Sarah Palin and other public people who say those things.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 8, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"In the first hours after the shooting, however, we didn't know that. And it was scarily easy to tell a story in which an upset citizen had taken the exhortations various political leaders had made in recent years too literally."


Not really. It merely suited the liberal cause to blame Sarah Palin for no reason at all. So they all collectively orgasmed and did it.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 8, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

This is a good post. This shooting does not fit into the standard left/right divide, but its frightening to see how easily it could, what with one party so enthusiastically mentioning cross-hairs, M16's, reloading, etc. When you promote violence in politics (and yes, crosshairs, reloading, and other gun imagery does just that), you are partially responsible for any form of political violence, no matter the politics of the shooter. You are supporting the idea that violence is a reasonable way to express political discontent.

Posted by: Nylund154 | January 8, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse

"This is a good post. This shooting does not fit into the standard left/right divide, but its frightening to see how easily it could, what with one party so enthusiastically mentioning cross-hairs, M16's, reloading, etc. When you promote violence in politics (and yes, crosshairs, reloading, and other gun imagery does just that), you are partially responsible for any form of political violence, no matter the politics of the shooter. You are supporting the idea that violence is a reasonable way to express political discontent."

does that include the leftists who filmed a movie about the assassination of President George W. Bush? Probably not.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 8, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"Why did this mentally ill person choose this congressman as a target? Why a politician at all, and why this one? "

And that's the crux of the problem: unresolved questions. If it comes out that he's a raving Tea Party crazy person, then it's definitely, as you say, the fruits of Palin and others' violent rhetoric. If it's not the result of all that, maybe he's just nuts. The Tea Party politicians are innocent *of contributing to this shooting* until proven otherwise. That still doesn't make their rhetoric any less vile or offensive, though.

But the fact that everyone thought it was a Tea Partier just shows how much gasoline they've thrown around, and how it just made sense that some crazy person would come along eventually to throw a match.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 8, 2011 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Have there been any current or formerly elected liberals who have advocated violence in the way many conservatives do in recent years?

This is why I am no longer a Republican. I learned many years ago the right wing is loony tunes, and today's actions prove it.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 8, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The shooter's political opinion was probably closer to Ezra Klien than any 'tea party' member.
The shooter wanted a 'second constitition' and a few weeks ago Klein posted anti-constition statments. He was also a pot smoker and a 'goth' in high school. And there are reports that the shooter was a registered Democrat. He was also rejected from the military.(probably for being gay)

Also one the shooter's favorite book was 'The communist manifesto'. Again, the shooter seems to be in the 'communist and/or anarchist' wing of the Democratic party. And they don't seem to get along with the 'blue dog' wing.

Also A FEW DAYS AGO in the liberal website 'THE DAILY KOS' it was posted that Giffords was dead to them for voting against Pelosi for speaker. That person claimed to live in her district. Of course Klein being a 'JourOlist' fails to mention that.

Posted by: jamesd1234 | January 8, 2011 10:28 PM | Report abuse

It's my opinion sir, that every murderer is mentally ill, but I really appreciate your kind approach of the subject and your conclusions. But the mentally ill person can be influenced by others like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Jesse Kelly and Ellen West in this Video at 1:15 on http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908//vp/40160729#40160729 (Rachel Maddow Show Nov. 12, 2010)
We hear: "If ballots don’t work, bullets will do!" That's loud and clear and it is exactly what happened today.
Those people - you mentioned Sharron Angle - believe that the Second Amendment gives every minority or individual the Constitutional right to shoot at political opponents if they can't win the electoral process by lack of public support.

Posted by: DutchPointer | January 8, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

"Have there been any current or formerly elected liberals who have advocated violence in the way many conservatives do in recent years?

This is why I am no longer a Republican. I learned many years ago the right wing is loony tunes, and today's actions prove it."

You mean like those leftists vandalizing UC properly, or the leftist who massacred people at Ford Hood?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 8, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

"Have there been any current or formerly elected liberals who have advocated violence in the way many conservatives do in recent years?

This is why I am no longer a Republican. I learned many years ago the right wing is loony tunes, and today's actions prove it."

You mean like those leftists vandalizing UC properly, or the leftist who massacred people at Ford Hood?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 8, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

When Hasan murdered 13 at Ft Hood in March, 2009, the Republicans blamed what they insisted was a terrorist attack directly on President Obama. Not once, but for months and months.

Every day since Obama was elected, the FOXpublican hate machine has been calling him - and all liberals and progressives - traitors, anti-American Marxist Socialist Fascists, the 'enemy,' death-panelists, job-killers, and Hitler-lovers. They've been warning their right-wingnut cult about gun seizures, and internment camps, and child indoctrinations, not to mention the constant chant that Obama is an illegal alien Muslim intent on imposing Sharia Law upon the 'real' USA.

So, no, EK, you're ignoring over two years of 24/7 overt (and code-speak) incitement to murder by Republicans and Republicans only, the goal being to trigger fringe elements into action.

This is the result. Period.

Posted by: frank1569 | January 8, 2011 10:41 PM | Report abuse

jamesd1234 - the DailyKos thing was debunked pretty early on, but conservative blogs just keep going with it:
http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2011/1/7/12144/49456/6#c6

As to your other points, the guy had Mein Kampf too. Does that mean he's a Nazi?

You can frame his background a bunch of ways: he sure was obsessed in those YouTube vids w/ the gold standard and things being unconstitutional. Does that mean he was a Tea Partier?

No, it doesn't. From those videos and what he posted on MySpace, the dude's crazy. The attempt to make him ideologically coherent (or, coherent at all) by conservative blogs seems sorta desperate, but the defensiveness says a lot about the concerns many have about Tea Party rhetoric.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 8, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

This is a smart take Ezra on what has happened in Arizona.

Hopefully America learns something from this sad incidence.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 8, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Giffords was among a group of Democratic House candidates who were featured on the Web site of Sarah Palin’s political action committee with cross hairs over their districts, a fact that disturbed Ms. Giffords at the time.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Ms. Giffords said last March. “But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”

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Posted by: trstar | January 8, 2011 11:16 PM | Report abuse

How can the modern Republican Party's rhetoric not be blamed for this rampage ?

How can the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann sleep at night ?

Reload Sarah ?

They should be in JAIL !

Posted by: PulSamsara | January 8, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's suppose for a second that politicans'and pundits' fear-mongering did play a role in the thought process of this sociopath (which of course, it did).Does anybody think Hannity, Beck, Palin, will feel remorse or admit any wrongdoing? HAHAHA.
Not funny.

Posted by: echoparkla | January 8, 2011 11:44 PM | Report abuse

A mother and father lost their nine year old child today. Any political statements from either side can wait. Gun control should be the bigger issue here IMO

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 8, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Of course the shooter was unbalanced, easily goaded to violence based on his paranoid fantasies. Luckily, he was the last one, so Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and Angle can continue to prod their minions with fantasies of gunning down liberal vermin. It can't happen again.

Posted by: IGiveup1 | January 8, 2011 11:55 PM | Report abuse

.


Republicans don't retreat, they reload"
- REPUBLICAN SARAH PALIN


"Americans (Republicans) are going to have to start using 2nd Amendment remedies if the voters don't get it right."
- REPUBLICAN SHARRON ANGLE


ENOUGH SAID...!


CONGRATULATIONS REPUBLICAN/TEABAGGER DOMESTIC TERRORISTS!!!


ALL YOUR HARD WORK PAID OFF TODAY, YOU FINALLY HAVE DEMOCRATIC BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!!!


ALL HAIL RUSH, GLENN AND SARAH!


.

Posted by: DrainYou | January 9, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

--*I'm not suggesting that any of these individuals really meant to advocate for acts of violence.*--

Klein, always the propagandist, plays his favorite When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife card.

Absolutely despicable.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

To live in a vacuum most be really pleasant for you Ezra.

"I'm not suggesting that any of these individuals really meant to advocate for acts of violence. In fact, I'm sure all of them are sick to their stomachs tonight."

You suggest this individual committed this heinous crime, but did it without any regards to the violent, irresponsible, and totally outrageous Republican rhetoric against Democrats these past two years.

Really? I have followed you for a long time, and this is my first time commenting in any of your blogs. I have excused many of your recent blogs due to youth, or even being just a little naive.

This is a different matter. This cannot be excused. This "madman" has been able to believe his extreme beliefs are shared by the "majority" of Americans based on right wing radio and fox news misinformation. That is a fact and to ignore it is an injustice to democracy.

No matter how "mentally ill" this individual may be, responsible persons need to be held accountable. Persons who everyday speak of "second amendment remedies" and place "sniper scopes" to indicate democratically elected officials who need to me "targeted" are not to be excused. They need to be held accountable.

This is DISGUSTING. Plain and simple. Don't try to trivialize this tragedy. You know better.

Posted by: mophan | January 9, 2011 12:05 AM | Report abuse

--*I'm not suggesting that any of these individuals really meant to advocate for acts of violence.*--

Klein, always the propagandist, plays his favorite When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife card.

Absolutely despicable.

Read your comments, Klein. You've wrought a regular hate fest.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:06 AM | Report abuse

--*Palin wasn't alone in using violent imagery and rhetoric to rouse her supporters.*--

Democrats put *targets* on their political adversaries, too.

http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

"Violence can be a calculated tool used by organized parties or groups to eliminate politicians, win elections and scare people away from certain positions. But that does not seem to be what happened today in Arizona."

Both killers were mentally unbalanced. One shot 26 times into one man. The one in Arizona, 26 times or more, hitting multiple people, killing several.

Without knowing their thoughts, no one can say what motivations or tipping point guided their acts. Arizona and Pakistan may be the same thing.

Why should sane people continue to tolerate extremism in either county?

We have extremism here, in America. And as many mentally unbalanced.

Why are potential tipping points not condemned by all "leaders" before more tragedies occur?

Religious sects, political parties. It is the same.

Posted by: ldfrmc | January 9, 2011 12:15 AM | Report abuse

"Rep. Giffords was among a group of Democratic House candidates who were featured on the Web site of Sarah Palin’s political action committee with cross hairs over their districts, a fact that disturbed Ms. Giffords at the time.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Ms. Giffords said last March. “But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”"

Don't forget to blame the shootings of Presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, Garfield, and Mckinley on Sarah Palin too!

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 12:22 AM | Report abuse

@krazen1211

OMG. Your intellectual inability to comprehend logical thought is astounding. Yes, everyone who has been assassinated -- to include MLK, X, and Bobby Kennedy is the fault of Palin.

Palin is the fourth horseman and the apocalypse is coming. You just be sure you are prepared. /snark

Posted by: mophan | January 9, 2011 12:31 AM | Report abuse

they have the blood on their hands, but no guilt or remorse. their will be no 'out damn spot' from our Alaskan lady macbeth

Posted by: daudder | January 9, 2011 12:49 AM | Report abuse

"OMG. Your intellectual inability to comprehend logical thought is astounding. Yes, everyone who has been assassinated -- to include MLK, X, and Bobby Kennedy is the fault of Palin.

Palin is the fourth horseman and the apocalypse is coming. You just be sure you are prepared. /snark"


There's about as much evidence linking Palin to MLK as there is to Giffords.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, I am not stupid. I am sure many of your readers would agree with me. Don't try to follow the mainstream media narrative on this story. You know better.

The guy may have been disturbed. He committed a crime. He committed a crime in the environment of hateful and nefarious talking points from right wing "news" outlets. The fact that he may have been disturbed may be used to excuse his actions, but that does not excuse the actions of so-called responsible journalists who continue to espouse the notions of false equivalency based on partisan rhetoric.

It is getting very tiring. Stand-up and speak the truth. You have the pulpit, we don't. If we cannot depend on you to bring about justice and protect the rights of individuals, than what else do we have to depend on?

Posted by: mophan | January 9, 2011 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Yeah I'm not sure it's totally appropriate to preemptively shut the door here. Timothy McVeigh was insane too. That doesn't mean that the fevered right wing climate of the Clinton years didn't affect him.

The past two Democratic presidents have now faced rhetoric suggesting that violent revolution against them wouldn't be so bad. The fact is, political candidates spent the last year not so subtly hinting that it would be perfectly ok if something terrible happened to their opponents. Isn't it at least possible that the open acceptance of that viewpoint pushed this psycho one step closer to acting?

Posted by: NS12345 | January 9, 2011 1:05 AM | Report abuse

LOUGHNER IS THE SORT OF LIBERAL WHO'S ANTI WOMENS RIGHTS (ABORTION), HATES THE FEDERAL RESERVE AND IS RABID ABOUT 'STATES RIGHTS'.


HE'S THE SORT THAT'S KNOWN AS A: REPUBLICAN!

.

Posted by: DrainYou | January 9, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

What did you lefties think of the leftist thug who took hostages at the Discovery Channel building?

Obviously this environmentalist militant was channeling Drill Baby Drill.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 1:09 AM | Report abuse

"Isn't it at least possible that the open acceptance of that viewpoint pushed this psycho one step closer to acting?"

Not really. If the man was that logical, he would have targeted someone more important than a run of the mill Congressman.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

On Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 09:45:23 AM PST, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (Kos) posted a "target list" of those who "sold out the Constitution last week", with Gabrielle Giffords' name in bold (as one of the Blue Dog Democrats), and wrote underneath, "Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district."

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/25/1204/74882/511/541568

How long before that is disappeared, eh, comrades?

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

--*LOUGHNER IS THE SORT OF LIBERAL WHO'S ANTI WOMENS RIGHTS (ABORTION), HATES THE FEDERAL RESERVE AND IS RABID ABOUT 'STATES RIGHTS'.*--

And lists "The Communist Manifesto" as one of his favorite books, along with "Mein Kampf".

To be fair, another of his alleged favorites was an Ayn Rand novel, though I haven't seen that commented upon, anywhere.

A person who claims to have known Loughner well (her twitter page is much linked, today) says that when she last saw him (as recently as 2007), Loughner was a lefty and liberal.

It seems rather likely that Loughner was completely confused about many things, and that trying to gin up hate (as Klein and Krugman and Dooberman and others are doing) against the conservative side of the spectrum reveals more about the left side than anything else.

I'll say it again: Klein & Co are as despicable as they come.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 1:25 AM | Report abuse

If nothing else, this is a sign that the rhetoric of political control (and the concomitant desire for power) in this country has gotten out of hand. Not in driving the actions of this killer, but in that there are so many ways we tend to see the acts of this schizophrenic through that lens.

We are more worried about who is control than what they do. "Us and them" thinking is a dead end. Both parties can be brought to an end. An end to "political parties" in general would not be a bad thing.

Posted by: staticvars | January 9, 2011 1:34 AM | Report abuse

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." - Barack Obama

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Sherriff Clarence Dupnik speaks the truth

When asked by a reporter if Giffords being shot could have been motivated by "prejudice and bigotry," Dupnik responded, "All I can tell you is that there's reason to believe is that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol."

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said the sheriff. "And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Posted by: Sfsj5 | January 9, 2011 1:52 AM | Report abuse

One would hope that there would be a few days given over to mourning for the dead and public good wishes for the full recovery of the injured in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting this morning. But since we live in a Twitter and Facebook and Instant Messaging world, such hope no longer gets a chance. Efforts to set the narrative are already fully under way.


The Teabagger goons (the Republican base) whose violent, eliminationist rhetoric has polluted the air waves of AM Hate Radio and Fox News for the past couple of decades, ramping itself up a little more each year, especially with the arrival of an African American in the White House, are, of course, denying that the shootings of a Congresswoman, a judge, a child and bystanders on a street corner in Arizona have anything to do with their savage words. No surprise.


One thing the right is good at is refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of this murderous talk, whether it's Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or Scott Roeder assassinating a doctor.


.

Posted by: DrainYou | January 9, 2011 2:14 AM | Report abuse

A public figure using racist or sexist language is properly despised by most Americans these days. This sad tragedy may hurry the day when a public figure using violent or gun imagery will be equally despised.
However, I do wonder why second amendment advocates who praise responsible gun ownership have allowed this "locked and loaded" language to pass unremarked up to now.

Posted by: karenfink | January 9, 2011 3:09 AM | Report abuse

The first thought in the minds of most Europeans will not be "overheated political rhetoric" but "What can you expect when nutters have such easy access to guns?" I am sure American shootists will reply that "Guns don't kill people - people kill people" but most on this side of the Pond believe that "People with guns kill people."

Posted by: jucameron43 | January 9, 2011 3:22 AM | Report abuse

The first thought in the minds of most Europeans will not be "overheated political rhetoric" but "What can you expect when nutters have such easy access to guns?" I am sure American shootists will reply that "Guns don't kill people - people kill people" but most on this side of the Pond believe that "People with guns kill people."

Posted by: jucameron43 | January 9, 2011 3:24 AM | Report abuse

The first thought in the minds of most Europeans will not be "overheated political rhetoric" but "What can you expect when nutters have such easy access to guns?" I am sure American shootists will reply that "Guns don't kill people - people kill people" but most on this side of the Pond believe that "People with guns kill people."

Posted by: jucameron43 | January 9, 2011 3:35 AM | Report abuse

in my opinion, the majority of americans will now see this as the calculated result of palin, bachman, limbaugh and beck, brewer, angle, paul and the tea party militia....to create violence and upset and lawlessness in the united states.
i lay this tragedy right at their feet.
their hatred of their fellow americans, their xenophobia, their despicable conversations and allusions to violence and racism...with electric underground fences, putting democratic leaders in crosshairs, denying transplants, having tea party people parade around in parks, laden with guns and camouflage uniforms in front of children.....glorifying aerial shootings of animals....their despicable words against the first family....all of it..has led us to this, in my opinion.
we can now see palin, beck, bachman, angle, brewer, paul and limbaugh, as some of the most pernicious and unpatriotic americans in public life.
they are pernicious, and this is the road that their kind of patriotism, their hatred of the "different," their talk of putting people in "crosshairs," of denying people transplants and their malevolent influence has taken us.
under the cover of the flag and patriotism, their incitement of violence, their hatred...is on this episode.

but now, comes the dawning of how dangerous and malevolent these extremists are....that they are truly the unpatriotic ones.
they want to tear and destroy the fabric of american life, and the rally the least educated, most hateful among us, to do the deeds they allude to, with malevolence.
their day in the sun is over.
this day had to come, and the hate of these right wing leaders has been visited on the country.
their day of power is ended.
in the end, hate and evil, egotism and ignorance show themselves for just what they are.
people will now see that the path of these people lead to pure evil, and that is all they are about.....an abuse of power, and incitement to violence and hate.
for years, john mccain and gramm and romney, and others of the republican party, should have had the courage to speak out against evil in their midst. but they have been silent.
and today should be a day of deep reflection for them.
this is the where the path of silence and capitulation to unbridled and reckless rhetoric, racism and incitement to violence will lead us.
shame on them all. they are the unpatriotic ones,
and americans today, will see them for the pernicious danger that they are to our society.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 4:00 AM | Report abuse

Who are the Koch Brothers???????

Might give one a clue where the money to finance comes from!!!

Posted by: bkarpus | January 9, 2011 5:41 AM | Report abuse

MSM puts the coconut from the only palm tree in AK front and center, day after day after day. Why? She's what, exactly? Quit her job, gets a cable show, was easily dismissable as a VP choice, and has a botox and breast re-set most women - if they wanted it - couldn't afford with two years salary. An air-brushed Vogue cover. Why? What has she done? She gets coverage when the unemployed - especially the 99ers - can't get arrested much less a reprieve from the Machiavellians now botching up Congress.
If this had been her, would it be an assassination or just plain (attempted)murder? SP's a mere citizen, right? Does her fee now go up to hire even more bodyguards? Biden walks around with less protection than a nobody bimbo from Alaska. WTF? She gets driven into our minds every day. Says this, says that, did this, goofed this up...And the MILLIONS of abandoned and "shameful" unemployed kicked out of this country's conscience with ignorance and tossed some bitterly, begrudgingly contested crumbs have lost everything get squat. Sheesh.

Additionally, I taught US I and II (jr and sr high school) - or its other course descriptions - for many years. To assign, discuss, include, and expose students to the variations of political doctrine arond the world in their contextual time was ordinary fair. As I recall, most kids had a hard time relating to most of it and yawned their way through it. So to say that this shooter had - OMG - a copy of Marx or Hitler or any other tyrant or opposition leader who rose to world prominence should be easily dismissed as what provoked or underwrote the impulse. That's like saying Catcher in the Rye could point out those who might fart in church or that Frost was responsible for everybody taking the wrong turn all the time when it snows.

Posted by: kickoradell | January 9, 2011 6:40 AM | Report abuse

S/B: "around the world" and "ordinary fare." No Spellcheck here and I just missed seeing them. My bad.

Posted by: kickoradell | January 9, 2011 6:43 AM | Report abuse

well said, Ezra. I agree with the above comments that Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and others with a substantial media presence need to remember that their incendiary words have consequences. Maybe this guy was mentally unbalanced, but who knows where he got the idea to target a sitting Member of Congress.

Posted by: chiquita2 | January 9, 2011 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I say again, the survivors of this shooting should sue Sarah Palin and others who publicly encouraged people to shoot them.

Had these been Republican victims, and Democrats were the ones running around putting them on hit lists as Sarah Palin and others did, I guarantee conservative journalists would not be so kind as Ezra is and I guarantee the survivors would be suing those Democrats.

This is a big difference between Republicans and Democrats: Republicans take action, and yesterday's actions prove it.

THERE MUST BE A RESPONSE TO THE REPUBLICAN HATE SPEECH. SUE THE BASTARDS

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 7:02 AM | Report abuse

The Arizona shootings are not the only recent attacks against the gvmt.

There have been bombings and white powder mailings of post offices and other bldgs in recent weeks (in MD and DC, if memory serves).

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 7:08 AM | Report abuse

For those defending Sarah Palin & Sharon Angle, yes you are right they had nothing to do with this. However the speech they use laced with innuendo and references to guns and gun imagery as a political solution are undeniable. Also, Palin is always antagonistic, condescending and negative and believes her role to be a political agitator spewing snide remarks but never offer solutions. Her appeal is to those who do believe that the President is a Muslim, Kenyan, Socialist traitor. Then there are the Tea Party rallies we see with gun toting people spewing anger and hate carrying borderline racist signs and talking about being "real Americans" and being "patriots" as if only those who agree with the Tea Party can be. Then there were some of the posts yesterday by regular WPO contributors saying stuff like "at least it was just a democrat".

So when you wonder why a large segment of the population wondered if it was a Tea Party sympathizer who committed this crime simply take a look at what the image the Tea Party and its leaders have portrayed.

Thank God this was committed by an insane person who was not affiliated with the Tea Party.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | January 9, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse


Lee Harvy Oswald was a left-winger. However, I view him as a nut case.

Posted by: hipshot | January 9, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

"I say again, the survivors of this shooting should sue Sarah Palin and others who publicly encouraged people to shoot them."~~~
lauren2010

i agree, one hundred percent.
sarah palin bears responsibility for what happened.
sarah palin basically provided the details and encouragement, and let someone else commit the crime.

this was the one and only plan of palin, beck, limbaugh and bachman.
to incite chaos, cleansing and violence, and to do it in the name of the constitution.
this is their brand of patriotism.
caribou first, and people next.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse


People who employ inflammatory rhetoric may not have been directly involved, their rhetoric may well have been. People who place fuses cannot expect no one will ignite them.

Posted by: khmaio | January 9, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

There was more political content to the killer's (admittedly disjointed and delusional) Internet rambling than you are admitting. Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who is an expert on fringe movements and their rhetoric and ideology, did a good analysis yesterday of some of that content: and a lot of it coheres to extreme, Patriot-type right-wing rhetoric, as well as to conspiracist groups. For my part, when I first saw the currency gold-standard stuff I thought immediately of Glenn Beck. Add that to the gun-toting, violent rhetoric of politicians, and an unstable person acts out his distorted behavior not just randomly but within the political environment. That is to say, mentally ill, paranoid, or delusional people can kill, but those influenced by specific ideological or political rhetoric will kill politically.

In this sense, I see no difference between the act yesterday and the ideologically motivated one of which you speak in Pakistan (or for that matter, terrorism in Baghdad or Kabul). The upshot, at least temporarily, is going to be increased security and less democratic access to political leaders, whether the shooter intended that or not. The shooting was political, no matter how demented (what act of political violence or terrorism is not?).

Posted by: JJenkins2 | January 9, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I hope this incident may help Sarah Palin and the inflammatory segment of the Tea Party realize that this is something they can learn from. This guy is clearly a nut-case without any ties to the Tea Party, however, the fact that so many, before we knew who did this, assumed it was someone incited by the Tea Party/Sarah Palin, etc., They need to ask themselves why that is?

Posted by: rcc_2000 | January 9, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"before we knew who did this, assumed it was someone incited by the Tea Party/Sarah Palin, etc., They need to ask themselves why that is?"


http://yfrog.com/h4j00sj
the day that sarah palin put this out was a shocking day in american politics.
a hunter, using crosshairs on people.
i remember thinking, when i saw that, "how could she get away with putting out a message like that?"
i thought, "isnt someone going to speak out, with outrage, about how dangerous a thing that is?"
no-one in her party spoke out against it.

how could no-one speak out?

moral cowardice.
a long time ago, a commenter on this blog, wrote,
"you cant shake hands with the devil, and say you were only joking."
this is what happens, when people dont speak out against evil.
this is what happens when people like palin, beck, limbaugh and bachman become voices of intimidation, adulation and authority, in any society.


Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

--*this is what happens, when people dont speak out against evil.*--

So, you'll be quick to condemn the Democrat Leadership Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, each of which have posted maps similar to the ones that sent Palin haters into hysterics, won't you?

http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Klein said:
"But today's shooting was a reminder of what real political violence in this country could look like, "

No, this is what it does look like. We do have political violence, right here, right now, in River city. And extreme rhetoric, now in common political use, can egg on a schizophrenic, much more easily than any sane person-- this is hate speech, pure and simple, found not to be protected by the constitution. When is someone, anyone, in the press or government going to grow a pair and stand up to the radical right?

And when are we going to find a way to keep assault rifles out of the hands of schizophrenics (or can Sarah make a case for the right of the insane to bear assault rifles too)? How? National Rifle Association? Anyone?

Posted by: underhill | January 9, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

//cite
** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
** Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
** Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
** Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”
** Obama to democrats: “I’m itching for a fight.”
//end cite

http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/01/did-barack-obama-cause-the-shootings-yesterday-in-tucson/

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

An mentally ill man "legally" owned that gun, a weapon meant for killing people. Why?

Posted by: CarolAnne1 | January 9, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't for a moment believe that Palin and others wanted their followers to actually shoot their enemies (and yes, the right considers Democrats enemies, not opponents), but unless they are stupid they know they are pushing the limits and that it could happen.

They willingly take that chance because they are either getting rich from such rhetoric (e.g., Limbaugh, Beck) or trying to gaining power (Palin, Angle, Bachmann), and the possibility that their words might result in violence is a risk they are willing to take.

And let's face it, money and power are the only two things that matter to post-Reagan Republicans.

Posted by: Trakker | January 9, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

msoja

If you believe the rhetoric we typically hear from people such as Palin and Bachmann and Beck are comparable to what Obama and other Dems use (including all the examples I've seen you list here), then you have lost your grip on reality.

And that's the problem. Rightwingers can't even begun to understand how far they've gone over the edge in painting liberals and government as their enemy.

Palin has a "HIT LIST" that included Gifford on it.

All right wingers should be ashamed at these shootings and the way their political heroes like to joke about shooting Democrats and putting them on hit lists.

You people need to disappear for as long as it takes until you regain your sense of reality and decency.

This is all part of the reason why I am no longer a Republican. I went thru that phase of questioning the myths and ideology and hatred that started coming from the GOP at least as early as 1992.

You all have been indoctrinated in the same way as so many Germans did pre-WWII, and here we have Democrats being shot and killed and you still can't see how dangerous your behavior has become.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"I don't for a moment believe that Palin and others wanted their followers to actually shoot their enemies (and yes, the right considers Democrats enemies, not opponents), "

oh, i disagree with you.
when people repeat the same transparent message for days on end,
you can be sure that they say exactly what they mean.
try as you may, there is no way to retract the intent
of their messages.


sarah palin, glenn beck, rush limbaugh and michelle bachman...all knew exactly what they were saying.
they bear responsibility for this.
it has been years of callling for violence.

the gods will come to meet them now,
from the opposite direction.
finally,
the day of accountability has come for them.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Gifford should SUE Sarah Palin for every penny she is worth.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Liberals need to respond to the Palin's and Beck's and Limbaugh's and any other person who the mainstream media treats as heroes and gives lucrative Tv and radio contracts to.

If every liberal and moral minded person in this country doesn't boycott those people's shows and sponsors, then we are just as much to blame as the guy who did the shooting.

If this does not serve as a wake up call to Americans to throw those racists and fascists off the air and out of politics, then there is absolutely no hope for this country.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

--*Palin has a "HIT LIST" that included Gifford on it.*--

And Kos of the Daily Kos had a "target list" that included Gifford and said he was marking her with a "bulls eye".

Frankly, the hate (born of ignorance and illogic) displayed by Klein's commenters is far more unreasonable and inflammatory than anything I've heard on talk radio. Klein really is contemptible for fomenting this display.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

If you believe the rhetoric we typically hear from people such as Palin and Bachmann and Beck are comparable to what Obama and other Dems use (including all the examples I've seen you list here), then you have lost your grip on reality."

lauren2010, you are absolutely right.
for msoja in any way, to cherrypick through president obama's speeches and faintly attempt to insinuate that his demeanor, spirit or intellect is anything like that of sarah palin, is indefensible and ludicrous.

president obama has, and now, will finally be appreciated for his quintessential courage, calmness and composure, his civility, his self-restraint and his desire for conciliation and diplomacy with others.
a president who does not make a fool of himself, crying.....who has endured mockery on his wife, on his children...racism from members of congress...to have someone shout out,"liar" while he is delivering the state of the union address....and to remain unflinching, courageous and completely honorable, is a gift to this country.
he has been repeatedly humiliated and disrespected, but he walks in courage, humility and victory.

his name should not even be uttered in the same breath with sarah palin.....he is a brilliant light, compared to the darkness of many of those who repeatedly attack him.
sarah palin walks in infamy now.
president obama walks in victory.

that is the difference.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"So when you wonder why a large segment of the population wondered if it was a Tea Party sympathizer who committed this crime simply take a look at what the image the Tea Party and its leaders have portrayed."

It's not a large segment of the population. It's just a small percentage of the liberal blogosphere.

That kind of 'wondering' doesn't actually make it into mainstream politics.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"So when you wonder why a large segment of the population wondered if it was a Tea Party sympathizer who committed this crime simply take a look at what the image the Tea Party and its leaders have portrayed."

It's not a large segment of the population. It's just a small percentage of the liberal blogosphere.

That kind of 'wondering' doesn't actually make it into mainstream politics.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"And that's the problem. Rightwingers can't even begun to understand how far they've gone over the edge in painting liberals and government as their enemy.

Palin has a "HIT LIST" that included Gifford on it.

All right wingers should be ashamed at these shootings and the way their political heroes like to joke about shooting Democrats and putting them on hit lists.

You people need to disappear for as long as it takes until you regain your sense of reality and decency.

This is all part of the reason why I am no longer a Republican. I went thru that phase of questioning the myths and ideology and hatred that started coming from the GOP at least as early as 1992."

Actually, the judge who was kiled was a Republican, and Giffords was an actual former Republican for most of her adult life.

An actual former Republican, not the utterly fictional one you claim to be, given how you parrot leftist rhetoric. The only way you could have been a Republican with your socialist views in the 1980s is if you were utterly stupid.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Gee, why did you not reference this target posted on Daily Kos: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c60bf53ef0148c76d84e5970c-pi. I know, it did not fit your narrative.

You rhetoric hinders the healing that needs to take place now.

Posted by: GreatHairGuy | January 9, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Lee Harvy Oswald was a left-winger. However, I view him as a nut case."

So was Jared Loughner. What a coincidence!

So who's fueling the leftwinged rampages?

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

All I can say to the LIBERALS is that Obama and his people took a horrible turn when they started to LEVEL FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM AT PEOPLE.


That is nothing but HATE SPEECH.


In addition, those tactics are INTIMIDATION.


Obama dragged this country down. He has attacked people - with NO BASIS. And Obama has sought to create witch-hunts around the nation - searching for racism where none exists.


Just last summer, Obama and his people at the NAACP tried to start another racist witch-hunt.


NONE of this is directed towards black people - it is ONLY INTIMIDATION DIRECTED AT WHITE PEOPLE.


That is what kind of government we have RIGHT NOW.


The government has been hijacked - clearly acted against the Will of the People.


This lame duck session is another example - we had an ELECTION, and the American People clearly expressed their intent.

The liberals and Obama just spent the last two months doing EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO SUBVERT THAT INTENT.


Obama and the democrats just spent two months DISRESPECTING THE ELECTION AND DISRESPECTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


And then the democrats want to blame the Tea Party for inflaming the political atmosphere.


It is Obama's fault - if he was a real man, he would take responsibility and RESIGN NOW.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 9, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

msoja

I can not testify as to whether kos did what you said.

I do not visit kos.

I would not mind if they shut down if they did what you said, and good riddance.

But Sarah Palin was a former elected official and national political player who has said she may run for President, and she has a national TV show, book deals, and a large following among Americans.

Do you understand the difference?

Do you understand that a number of currently elected Republicans have joked about shooting Obama?

Did you know BushJr's offical 2004 election website interposed pictures of Kerry and Gore with Hitler?

Do you understand that no other President, current or former, has ever compared political opponents to people like Hitler?

Do you know that Limbaugh has made overtly racist statements and/or innuendos?

Do you know Oreilly has joked about bombing the NYTimes? I wont even start with Beck.

Do you realize that many Americans, liberal or centrist or rightwing, do indeed utter violent rhetoric but that they are NOT elected officials or national TV personalities, and that historically, when famous people do make such utterings they usually disappear from the limelight because ordinary Americans know the difference between what they say and what famous people say, and that what famous people say can affect lunatics like that guy yesterday?

I shouldn't waste my time on you; you have no clue what I'm trying to say. Your comments here indicate you are more worried about protecting Palin from her insane rhetoric than about that little girl born on 911 that was killed yesterday by a crazed gunman filled with ideas of hatred for Democrats because numerous rightwing elected Republicans and TV personalties and preachers are telling people its OK to shoot Democrats.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 9, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"president obama has, and now, will finally be appreciated for his quintessential courage, calmness and composure, his civility, his self-restraint and his desire for conciliation and diplomacy with others."


Wow. I vomited.

Of course, these grand predictions are coming from those who thought Nancy Pelosi would still be Speaker of the House. We know their forecasting track record, and it stinks.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

You know, msoja, the sad thing is that most liberals I saw on the blogs were cheering this assassination attempt.

Why? Because they figured it was the end of the Tea Party and sealed Obama's election.


The oddest thing is that such theories have not historically proven all that true.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

krazen


it is a pity that you dont recognize greatness in your own lifetime.
you are lucky enough to be present during the administration of one of our greatest and most effective presidents.

consider yourself very fortunate.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"it is a pity that you dont recognize greatness in your own lifetime.
you are lucky enough to be present during the administration of one of our greatest and most effective presidents.

consider yourself very fortunate."

Actually, I was born in 1986, so while I was alive for Reagan's Presidency, I don't remember it.

But thanks.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, I was born in 1986, so while I was alive for Reagan's Presidency, I don't remember it."

.and i was not referring to reagan, i am referring to president obama, as one of our greatest and most effective presidents, and we are fortunate americans, to have him as our president, and witness his accomplishments.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"and i was not referring to reagan, i am referring to president obama, as one of our greatest and most effective presidents, and we are fortunate americans, to have him as our president, and witness his accomplishments."


Well, then you are really, really stupid or really, really high.

Careful. We know what pot smoking liberals do.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse


Seriously folks


The gunman is 22 years old - and ALL he has been hearing from Obama and the democrats for the last 3 years has been FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM AGAINST WHITE PEOPLE.


And you wonder why the younger generation has the attitudes they do.


The liberals are a DISGRACE - the support and silence they have given to Obama and his people when they LEVELED FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM have been HORRIBLE.


The democrats have BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY AROUND THIS.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 9, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

One more thing before I archive Klein's post as an example of the rank stupidity of the era and go and find something productive to do with the day.

Much is being made of the rhetoric of "the right".

I would offer that no amount of rhetoric, no matter how vitriolic or purportedly inciting, can compare to the actual violence being done to freedom and wealth in this country by our own government.

Health care reform, to use just one of hundreds of possible examples, is a real 800 billion dollar imposition on the hard working people of the country. And that's just its (minimum) dollar amount. Barring repeal, that imposition will be enforced by the armed agents of the government. That's not rhetoric. That's real violence, and it's being overwhelmingly sanctioned by one side of the political arena. That is the real evil, and it deserves heaps and mounds of scornful and derisive rhetoric.

Rhetoric is nothing. The bureaucratic state, with its overflowing prisons, and ever expanding criminal code, and its ever grasping regulatory bodies sucking more and more of the country's freedom and wealth into their bottomless maws is the seat of the real violence. Try and remember that when you rage and hate against those who are rather sure that trading one's freedom for a little security (or the illusion of it) is not a worthwhile bargain, and should be resisted.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Okay. First DailyKos is a freaking Web site, not a former VP candidate. There's zero comparison, and that's not taking into account the context of the situation -- the constant gun imagery, the fiery victimization language, the apocalyptic/good-versus-evil rhetoric, etc.

And yeah, there's tons of nuts on both sides and if you rely on *commenters* (or diary authors on those web sites) that's pretty pathetic. http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_08/009318.php

But yeah, there's bad stuff on both sides of the blogosphere. It's useless to try to compare and contrast -- but it should be a given that we hold our representatives and political leaders up to certain standards.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 9, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"I would offer that no amount of rhetoric, no matter how vitriolic or purportedly inciting, can compare to the actual violence being done to freedom and wealth in this country by our own government."

Equivocating violence to people and violence to wealth is scary stuff dude. Making a law that our representatives enacted -- that the far left and far right both really don't like -- something that excuses murder is even more scary.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 9, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, I was born in 1986, so while I was alive for Reagan's Presidency, I don't remember it."

well, i do remember his presidency... and there was much to admire and respect about ronald reagan.
as a democrat, i can heartily say that.
and many republicans leaders today, could take a real lesson from president reagan, in character and decency and courage.
qualities that are bereft in almost all of the republican leaders today.
president reagan would have had the courage to have spoken out against sarah palin, rush limbaugh, and certainly....glenn beck. he was a decent and principled man.
he would have had zero tolerance for their rantings.
but then, sarah palin didnt have very nice things to say about president reagan either.
and i believe he would agree that president obama is a great and effective president, even if he disagreed with him.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

--*I would not mind if they shut [Kos] down if they did what you said, and good riddance.*--

Fascist.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on. When you say "it could've easily fit with comments made by trusted political figures should stop us cold." you absolve the right-wing nut cases and "mainstream" right wing nutcases and hater of complicity.

The statement should read "DO easily fit with comments made by trusted political figures". This is not a situation where "could" should be used to describe how the rantings of the shooter align with the rantings of "trusted political figures". The rantings are the same.

This is "Tea Party Terrorism" supported by the crazies who watch Beck on Fox Cable. The link isn't as institutionalized as the one you seeing and reporting between a Pakistani guard and Taliban supporting Moslems, but it is otherwise just as effective as a political terror tool.

Is your piece supposed to be the one that lets the MSM off the hook and allows the definition of Terrorism to remain, "those violent acts committed by Moslems?

This multiple murder, assassination (attempt) was a political act by a crazy person who was willing to kill to make a point, inspired by the rantings of other crazy people. The fact that the "other crazy people" set the limits of acceptable discourse -- by appearing on MSM news and commentary channels -- is being minimized in your report.

As Bill Clinton has said, "Words matter".

The Tea Party and GOP partisans who have spewed the hate labeled government as the enemy and Obama as a foreigner taking over the US government, they are culpable and own some responsibility for the actions of a maniac in Arizona. Even if they wish to deny it, they gave it credence and a veneer of acceptability that a maniac interpreted as a moral dispensation to act.

They own the act. "I didn't really mean it" should not be accepted.

Posted by: grooft | January 9, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Who said: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." "I want him dead, dead, dead." "You should punish your enemies today (election day)"? All people high up in this administration.

Posted by: truck1 | January 9, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Seriously folks


The gunman is 22 years old - and ALL he has been hearing from Obama and the democrats for the last 3 years has been FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM AGAINST WHITE PEOPLE.


And you wonder why the younger generation has the attitudes they do.


The liberals are a DISGRACE - the support and silence they have given to Obama and his people when they LEVELED FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM have been HORRIBLE.


The democrats have BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY AROUND THIS.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 9, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

--*Equivocating violence to people and violence to wealth is scary stuff dude.*--

You mean "equating", I'm sure.

"violence to wealth" is not figurative. The damage is real, and lasting.

Think of it as the legitimate flip side of Klein's inflammatory accusation: "[Senator Joe Lieberman] seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/12/joe_lieberman_lets_not_make_a.html

Klein was complaining that Lieberman wasn't sufficiently down with the forced redistribution of the citizenry's wealth in service to the DeathCare overhaul. It's my view that said forced redistribution, now in its early phases, will be far more damaging and destructive, in terms of real lives, than the mere "hundreds of thousands" that Klein used as fodder for his propaganda.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt that anyone randomly shooting people or specifically targeting government elected representatives is dangerously delusional. He is a sick and damaged individual. Just like Major Hassan. Another crazy person seeking to become relevant by shooting people. We spent countless hours blaming Islam for Major Hassan’s actions.

One thing remains clear: The Tucson shooter did not target a celebrity or a famous sports figure. He did not target a religious leader or a member of the media. He targeted an elected representative of our government. To ignore this fact is a recipe for disaster. The people that want to dismiss the fact that a politician was targeted are refusing to deal with reality. They are, once again, ignoring facts because it may not agree with their opinion. Does extreme rhetoric motivate unstable people to stupid actions? To deny this is, well, stupid.

Posted by: NewThoughts | January 9, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"I want him dead, dead, dead."

Lemme guess. Rahm Emanuel?

//cite
Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

"Dead!" he screamed.

The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: "Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!"
//end cite

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/15/magazine/the-brothers-emanuel.html

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"Your comments here indicate you are more worried about protecting Palin from her insane rhetoric than about that little girl born on 911 that was killed yesterday by a crazed gunman filled with ideas of hatred for Democrats because numerous rightwing elected Republicans and TV personalties and preachers are telling people its OK to shoot Democrats."

Yeah Lauren, because otherwise normal people go on shooting sprees after hearing a little heated political rhetoric.

The only information I have found so far about the gunman describes the guy as "quite liberal" and a "political radical". That was from a twitter post by someone who claimed to know him. Maybe that changes as we learn more, but if this holds up it will be bizarre for us to blame this disaster on Palin or any personality on the right.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/01/jared_loughner_alleged_shooter.php

In any case, I think it is obvious that msoja is pointing out the rank hypocrisy of most liberals to whine about heated political rhetoric and imagery from the right, while ignoring or downplaying the same on the left. What if it is confirmed that this guy is, in fact, a leftist?

At the end of the day, we can't blame this attack on the words of politicians or media personalities. People are responsible for their own actions. The responsibility for this atrocity is attributable to the shooter and any accomplices he might have had. That is all. It doesn't matter whether he was "inspired" by DailyKos or Barack Obama or Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.

To sue media personalities and clamp down on free speech over the actions of a crazed maniac is ridiculous.

Posted by: justin84 | January 9, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

--*He targeted an elected representative of our government.*--

One of the people killed was a Republican-appointed judge. The Congresswoman who is in critical condition is a Blue Dog, or conservative, Democrat.

Are you really sure you want to continue with your line of thought?

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Someone already posted this, but I think it bears repeating as a very succinct counter argument to anyone here who says that politicians of any party who use violent rhetoric are not somehow on the hook for what happened yesterday. A quote from Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
----

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said the sheriff. "And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

When asked by a reporter if Giffords being shot could have been motivated by "prejudice and bigotry," Dupnik responded, "All I can tell you is that there's reason to believe that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol."

Posted by: RaviAnand | January 9, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"One of the people killed was a Republican-appointed judge. The Congresswoman who is in critical condition is a Blue Dog, or conservative, Democrat."

You're suggesting he was targeting conservatives? LOL

The Congresswoman's father said she was a target of the tea party. The tea party vandalized her headquarters after she voted for health care reform.

The cold hard fact is that Palin incited violance with her crosshair poster that targeted the victim. The victim even said on MSNBC that she felt threatened by Palin's crosshair poster with her name on it.

Posted by: JIMMYJONES | January 9, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

There has been some violent, street fighting imagery coming out of the administration. On another blog then candidate Obama was quoted at a rally in Philadelphia as saying "if they bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun." He then went on to joke about how they enjoy a scuffle in Philly, no doubt true. This was in 2008. At the time, as I remember, this kind of talk was praised as tough, not condemned as incitement to violence. But really, are people and citizens of this country thought to be so crazy that we cannot hear dissent without becoming violent? No one knows this shooter's motives -- yet almost all on this thread are jumping to conclusions. But EVEN IF he was a fan of the tea party, for which there is zero evidence at this time, it would not make the tea party any more responsible for this than Al Gore was for the Unibomber's murders. Gore's book was found in the cabin of the Unibomber, and he clearly was a fan of Gore. It would be completely unjust to in any way blame Gore for what some nut who read his works went on to do.

Posted by: truck1 | January 9, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"How can the modern Republican Party's rhetoric not be blamed for this rampage ?

How can the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann sleep at night ?

Reload Sarah ?

They should be in JAIL !"

If there is an afterlife, I think Josef Stalin would be smiling over this comment.

Hey, any excuse to put the political opposition in prison.

Posted by: justin84 | January 9, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

msoja

you can cherrypick all that you want, none of your snippets are comparable to the day-in and day-out, dangerous, violent, ignorant, hateful and inciteful rhetoric from sarah palin, glenn beck, rush limbaugh and michelle bachman.....a
though sarah palin can cleanse her website, and have her assistant make all sorts of clarifying rhetoric, the crosshairs were just that.
there is just nothing to compare with the intent to incite violence that has occurred on the right.
just as when someone screamed out at president obama..."liar!
the conduct on the right has been beyond the pale.
it has been beyond reprehensible, and i would imagine, in some cases,criminal.
but the republican party, out of fear has kept turning a blind eye.
it is tolerated because these crazy people have intimidated and terrified their own party into silence.
this would not have happened under president reagan.
there is little courage and even decency among the republican leaders now.
in the past, a democrat such as myself, could look to republican leadership and feel a sense of honor about many of them. i actually voted for president reagan in his first term, and i volunteered for president bush senior, in his very, very first, unsuccessful presidential run.
i have almost total disrespect for the republican party now. i cant look to one leader in that party, and feel pride in their representing me. and i as i have mentioned, that has not always been the case.
i am disgusted to watch boehner weeping at every session of congress. i am disgusted to see cantor bringing in a copy of the hcr text and mocking it because of its size....and most of all, i am disgusted that the republican party has allowed themselves to be silenced by the lunatic fringe, as an act of moral cowardice.
even mccain's daughter has shown more sense than her father, in speaking out against sarah palin.
it was his desperate effort for reelection that let him sacrifice the well-being of the country for personal aspiration, by unleashing an incompetent, untrustworthy person on us, as a possible vice president.
he, better than anyone, knew it was the wrong thing to do.
even his daughter knew it.
there is nothing that you can cherry-pick that can hold a candle to what palin, bachman, limbaugh, angle and glenn beck have done.
they are a disgrace to some of the great leaders that used to exist in their party.
and as i added before, sarah palin, in her abysmal ignorance, spoke poorly of president reagan.
she couldnt even touch the hem of his garment, by comparison to the hard work and dignity of the man.
she is a disgrace to the republican party, and the american people. now, she is in the full glare of the truth of what she has done.
and regardless of what efforts her supporters will make on her behalf,there is no "refudiating" her way out of this.
she is deeply, morally implicated in this.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse


All I can say to the LIBERALS is that Obama and his people took a horrible turn when they started to LEVEL FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM AT PEOPLE.


That is nothing but HATE SPEECH.


In addition, those tactics are INTIMIDATION.


Obama dragged this country down. He has attacked people - with NO BASIS. And Obama has sought to create witch-hunts around the nation - searching for racism where none exists.


Just last summer, Obama and his people at the NAACP tried to start another racist witch-hunt.


NONE of this is directed towards black people - it is ONLY INTIMIDATION DIRECTED AT WHITE PEOPLE.


That is what kind of government we have RIGHT NOW.


The government has been hijacked - clearly acted against the Will of the People.


This lame duck session is another example - we had an ELECTION, and the American People clearly expressed their intent.

The liberals and Obama just spent the last two months doing EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO SUBVERT THAT INTENT.


Obama and the democrats just spent two months DISRESPECTING THE ELECTION AND DISRESPECTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.


And then the democrats want to blame the Tea Party for inflaming the political atmosphere.


It is Obama's fault - if he was a real man, he would take responsibility and RESIGN NOW.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 9, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

and in mentioning republicans who are completely over the pale in their hateful rhetoric, i forgot to mention darryl issa.
it is a disgrace to the position that he holds, to hear someone speaking the way he does.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Someone already posted this, but I think it bears repeating as a very succinct counter argument to anyone here who says that politicians of any party who use violent rhetoric are not somehow on the hook for what happened yesterday. A quote from Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik."

Not a very convincing counter argument. People are responsible for their own actions. Period.

Who gets to decide when a person's speech is too dangerous to abide, and that person must have their property stolen or be thrown in prison over it? I wouldn't grant that power to anyone.

Posted by: justin84 | January 9, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The guy was nuts, and the lefty looneys think the answer is to outlaw metaphors from the language as a solution. Maybe we should arrest people who use words like "re-load" and "cross-hairs". Or maybe we should wake up and recognize that this kind of proposed censorship -- and make no mistake, IT IS BOTH -- could go both ways. Surely that is not what the founding fathers had in mind.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | January 9, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Did not our own President use hate rhetoric as with the constitution article Ezra you get it all wrong

** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a G u n”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose a s s to kick.“
** Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
** Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
** Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies

Posted by: badger9 | January 9, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Who gets to decide when a person's speech is too dangerous to abide, and that person must have their property stolen or be thrown in prison over it? I wouldn't grant that power to anyone."

that statement makes no sense.

it is quite easy for a rational and intelligent person to know when someone's speech is too dangerous, abnormal or threatening...it is not hard to know when someone's words can put someone over the edge, or create a danger for others.

and you said:
"people are responsible for their own actions. period."
yes, maybe in a therapist's office...but in the real world, we live in a net of interrelated actions, causes and effects.
if you are over five years old, then you have the ability to know that what is said to you, affects your actions, your thoughts and your behaviors.

even a child knows when someone is over the edge, and saying menacing and inciteful things.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe we should arrest people who use words like "re-load" and "cross-hairs"."

maybe responsible public figures should have better sense, a shred of intelligence and a moral conscience, to refrain from using inciteful phrases like those, that could be taken literally by pathetic followers.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I used to be a fan. But with your jellyfish stance on the Obama tax cuts and now a, frankly, delusional and cowardly post on the Arizona shootings, I must REMOVE YOU FROM MY BOOKMARKS LIST! Sorry bud.

Posted by: jsmith09 | January 9, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Someone has pointed out that when you speak publicly, the village idiot and the village psychopath are listening.

Posted by: gm2levitis | January 9, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Leftists like Ezra want us to focus on the “comments made by trusted political figures" after yesterday's atrocity. Maybe Ezra should start with President Obama. He's clearly the worst offender.
http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/01/did-barack-obama-cause-the-shootings-yesterday-in-tucson

** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
** Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
** Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
** Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”
** Obama to democrats: “I’m itching for a fight.”

If Leftists really want to consider the atmosphere of violent rhetoric, they should start at the White House.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 9, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Brace yourself: The satanic Westboro cult will protest at little Christina’s funeral.
http://hillbuzz.org/2011/01/09/brace-yourselves-democrat-fred-phelps-and-westboro-hate-group-announce-plans-to-picket-9-year-old-shooting-victim-christina-greenes-funeral-a-new-low-for-democrat-hate-groups/

“The Left does some truly despicable things in this world, but this is a new low for Democrats. Former three-time Democrat gubernatorial candidate Fred Phelps Jr. (commonly called just “Fred Phelps”) and his Westboro Hate Group have announced plans to disrupt the funeral of 9 year-old shooting victim Christina Greene.”

/spit

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 9, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are politically exploiting the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by attacking Sarah Palin for setting up a list of "targeted" Democrat members of Congress last year.

They conveniently forget that defeated Democrat Congressman Harry Mitchell did the same thing to JD Hayworth (R-AZ) a few years ago (right there in Arizona), running a campaign ad featuring JD Hayworth in the crosshairs of a rifle.
http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2011/01/09/sarah-palin-democrats-forget-they-put-jd-hayworth-in-crosshairs/

Own the rhetorical hate-mongering, Leftists.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 9, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

--*The Congresswoman's father said she was a target of the tea party.*--

Yeah, I remember what an epiphany I had when I realized words could have more than one meaning depending on context. I think I was two or three.

You do realize that every time someone uses the word "target" they don't necessarily mean "the target of a firearm," don't you?

Could it be possible that the "tea party" was targeting Giffords' congressional seat, and not her life?

Yeah, you go think about that.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein has a lot of wisdom and sense for such a young man.

-Elizabeth K.

Posted by: LADemocrat | January 9, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

What i take away from this shooting is that the guy is crazy. That is all. No political speech by Sarah Palin or anyone else has anything to do with it. Unless you want to see this nonsense being used as a murder defense, see speech curtailed, or shift responsibility for actions to others, i suggest everyone get right OFF this track.

Shooter is mentally ill. He doesn't need rhetoric from anyone. For all we know, voices in his head where telling things.

Nobody knows if this kid was even aware of a Sarah Palin website.

Posted by: glezzery1 | January 9, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"that statement makes no sense."

The question of who watches the watchmen has plagued political philosophers for thousands of years, but apparently jkaren has it all figured out. It's just all nonsense.

"it is quite easy for a rational and intelligent person to know when someone's speech is too dangerous, abnormal or threatening...it is not hard to know when someone's words can put someone over the edge, or create a danger for others."

Really? I'm willing to grant that you are a rational and intelligent person, and you think Sarah Palin's speech is too dangerous.

I don't believe it is so dangerous that it requires criminal penalties. Am I irrational and unintelligent? If so, who decides? You? How are disagreements handled? Who is completeley objective?

Does Obama's rhetoric of "punish one's enemies" or "bring a gun to a knife fight" count? I can see reasonable people disagreeing.

A natural rights libertarian would suggest that anyone advocating taxes is advocating theft via the force of the state, and as such could be said to be using dangerous speech.

Even in supposedly clear cut cases, there is the huge issue of POLITICAL BIAS which you are glossing over, never mind that reasonable people can disagree on where to draw the precise line.

By the way, we haven't even established whether or not conservative talking heads influenced this guy at all. Yet, people are already crying out to sue or imprison various conservatives for the crime of speech.

What if there is a gunman who was once a liberal but turns conservative, keeps it to himself and who shoots at Republican politicians. He says that he was influenced by aggressive rhetoric from Democratic politicians. All of his friends agree he had liberal views. Should the Dems be imprisoned or otherwise sanctioned?

"yes, maybe in a therapist's office...but in the real world, we live in a net of interrelated actions, causes and effects.
if you are over five years old, then you have the ability to know that what is said to you, affects your actions, your thoughts and your behaviors.

even a child knows when someone is over the edge, and saying menacing and inciteful things."

However, what if a far right Republican is the guy deciding what statements are too provocative? What if Democrats are thrown in jail for mild rhetoric and Republicans get to say what they want? As you might know, this is exactly what happens in totalitarian governments.

Can't you see that your preferred system of censorship depends on incorruptible officials to manage it, and is likely to descend into tyranny in practice?

Posted by: justin84 | January 9, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

@ msoja
Yes, typo on my part. Stupid un-editable WaPo comments ...

You totally ignore context. If I discuss a bill, and say that it's going to result in some deaths due to people not having insurance, that's discussing people's death *for purposes of discussing a bill.* Is the death that results from a murderer at all similar? No. Just as I'd say arguments about economics isn't the same as murder, either. That's pretty obvious stuff.

@bunch of other people
There's a whole lot of discussion about what's right and what's legal. Yes, people have the right to say a whole range of bad things without going to jail. That makes the US a great place. A lot of lefty comments on this thread seem to think saying inflammatory things (absent the usual First Amendment exceptions like yelling fire, etc) should mean you go to jail. That's wrong, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to argue that Palin/Angle's language can contribute to crazy people doing crazy things (although there's no evidence of that here, yet). If Palin knew the shooter and urged him to murder, that'd be different.

@ KaddafiDelendaEst
Yes, politicians say a lot of things. Taken in a vacuum, those comments sound fiery. But I'm not sure Obama's quotes come in the same context of rowdy Tea Party disruptions of peaceful constituent meetings, taunts at rallies toward minorities, vandalism of congresspersons' offices, Tea Partiers wearing automatic weapons to public meetings, the conservative MSM's hysteria/Nazi imagery/end-of-times-like language about Obama, fears that he's not *really* an American. Context matters, and there's really no comparison. If some lefty politicians did similar things before the Seattle riots against WTO -- that'd definitely be comparable. If Rahm said that "Dead!" stuff when Dem activists had organized against the people he was complaining about -- that'd be comparable. It's pretty obvious there's no effort in any of those examples to play into pre-existing activist tendencies toward guns/violence/inflammatory rhetoric, and that makes all the difference. This stuff is pretty clear cut.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 9, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

--*there is just nothing to compare with the intent to incite violence that has occurred on the right.*--

Tell me again what will happen to me if I refuse to buy health insurance in 2014. Refresh my memory about what's in store if I subsequently refuse to pay the IRS *penalty* that follows.

Is there any point in there when it might occur to you that *you* sanctioned violence against *me*? How have you not put a gun to my head throughout the whole thing?

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

^^ What'll happen if I don't buy a house and don't get my mortgage deduction? What'll happen if I don't buy car insurance and get fined? There's a whole bunch of things that cost us more money in taxes or fines. And hey, we have a sweet political process to work out such discussions, and rule of law to make sure opponents suck it up after the fact or work within systems to accomplish policy goals.

That's not at all comparable to an individual's act of violence against another, or politicians urging such violence of people who've demonstrated a continued preoccupation with it.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 9, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This is why his parents should be in jail with him:

"When he was suspended from Pima Community College, the school sent a letter to Loughner's parents stating that if Loughner wished to return to the school, he would have to "obtain a mental health clearance indicating, in the opinion of a mental health professional, his presence at the College does not present a danger to himself or others," the school said in a statement.

The school said Loughner had as many as five run-ins with campus police for "classroom and library disruptions," and was suspended after college police discovered a YouTube video apparently created by Loughner in which he claimed the college is "illegal." Rather than return to school, Loughner dropped out, the statement said.

One Pima Community College student, who had a poetry class with Loughner later in his college career, said he would often act "wildly inappropriate."


Posted by: 54465446 | January 9, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"That's wrong, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to argue that Palin/Angle's language can contribute to crazy people doing crazy things (although there's no evidence of that here, yet)"

And yet, leftists seem to be asserting it anyway.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 9, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

--*What'll happen if I don't buy a house and don't get my mortgage deduction?*--

Nothing.

--*What'll happen if I don't buy car insurance and get fined?*--

You'll get a taste of state thuggery.

--*[W]e have a sweet political process to work out such discussions, and rule of law to make sure opponents suck it up after the fact or work within systems to accomplish policy goals. That's not at all comparable to an individual's act of violence against another*--

Just because you voted to bring force to bear against your neighbor, doesn't make it any less immoral.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

^^ "Force" or not, it's redress-able in the process and that's what matters. Without rule of law and process, so-called political actions become based in power alone. Because what's moral is often subjective in policymaking, that's the best we can do.

What's moral in terms of me punching my neighbor in the face or stealing his wallet? That's pretty clear; they're not comparable.

Posted by: Chris_ | January 9, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

--*[I]t's redress-able*--

Muggings are redress-able, too, but that has no bearing on the fact that it is wrong to mug someone.

State sanctioned force is still force. State sanctioned theft is still theft. Rhetoric is nothing, in comparison.

If collectivists stopped forcing their loony notions onto their fellows, and quit stealing ever more of their fellows' wealth, they'd most likely hear less of the "rhetoric" and arguments that upset them so. But, too, they then wouldn't be able to blame random violence committed by psychotics on the political culture they've had a large hand in fostering.

I don't really know what Loughner's complaints might have been (and neither do Klein or Krugman), but the truth is that Klein and Krugman have been very busy fostering a clash of cultures, actively pitting the have nots against the haves, propagandizing that one group of people has a right to the fruits of other groups' labor, etc. If that isn't a recipe for violence, I don't know what one is.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Spare us your hypocrisy, Ezra. As long as you participate in Olbermann and Maddow's demagoguery, you are part of the problem.

Like all liberals, Klein can only see the extreme rhetoric of those who don't share his narrow-minded views.

Posted by: bobmoses | January 9, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

McCain brought Palin to the civilized lower 48. Palin brought violence.

Jared Loughner– 1st Degree Murders
Sarah Palin
Rupert Murdoch
Sean Hanity
Bill O'Reilly
Glenn Beck
Rush Limbaugh

Dick Army-2nd Degree Murders
Michele Bachmann
John Boehner
John McCain
Joe Wilson

This is the dirty dozen that has blood on their hands and a reload mentality that will shape our future political landscape.

Posted by: nateminor | January 9, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

The shooter was mentally ill, mentally weak, a very sick individual. He was a
flag-burner; angry at Giffords for voting against Pelosi this week; he was anti-semitic; obsessed with Karl Marx and European politics, etc.
There's no excuse for this horrific crime.,
but to blame one particular party is ignorant.

Posted by: ohioan | January 9, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

"but to blame one particular party is ignorant."

what i blame the republican party for, is their unanimous silence, and lack of moral courage, in the face of violent, reckless rhetoric that was damaging for the country, and could only have escalated into a catastrophe.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ezra for calling out Sahra Palin, for her divisiveness, her BS and her target map.

Now,it's time the people of this country to completely ignore her. She is doing nothing to help humanity...

Posted by: TomV1 | January 9, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

The rush to judgement to blame conservatives for this guy was really apalling, IMO.

If you can identify him at all, based on his history - atheist, pothead, graffiti artist - I would suspect him of being one of the trendy anarchist-leftist types you see in urban grunge-hipster communities today. The only thing they have in common with tea partiers is a shared distrust of the federal government - though for different reasons!

It's sort of shameful how the left was so, so, eager to pin him as a Tea Party conservative without even waiting for a shred of evidence.

Posted by: tjk1 | January 9, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

tech1959 said: "If you didn't want to suggest Palin and Angle are responsible why did you mention them?
Why didn't you mention Obama telling people to punish our enemies when he was talking talking about immigration and securing the border. Gifford was against Obama's border policies."

Obama hasn't been slyly making calls for political assassination as the irresponsible Palin and her scurrilous cohorts have. She and they are disgusting and need to be shunned.

Posted by: jonboinAR | January 9, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I am truly surprised, Mr. Klein, at your dichotomous reasoning.
" And there is, for us and for them, comfort that today's events do not seem to have been an act of calculated political intent so much as an act of mental derangement." How can you think that being awash in a verbal cesspool of violent, manipulative, paranoia supporting verbiage does not infect the mentally ill, focusing and prompting action. It's not a case of either/or, but a case of yes/and.
Anita K. Eisenstein, Psy.D.

Posted by: anitakay1 | January 10, 2011 1:29 AM | Report abuse

The surprising thing in these posts is the absence of calls for gun control. You would expect to find that, as you usually do, after such a massacre. But you don't because most of those writing on this thread are more interested in exploiting this event and using it against the tea party, or conservatives in general. All the talk is about the supposed underlying political atmosphere, despite emerging evidence that this kid, barely out of highschool, had little or no interest in the current political debates, and in fact had been interested in Giffords before the tea party existed.

Posted by: truck1 | January 10, 2011 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Joe Manchin, (D-W.VA) in a widely publicized ad shot a hole through the healthcare bill, with a gun. Pres. Obama, in 2008, said "If they bring a knife, we'll bring a gun." Those two things alone should be enough to shut down all talk of republican blame.

Posted by: truck1 | January 10, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

As a psychologist, I disagree with you. Here's why:

The insanity defense for someone accused of a crime serves to *affirm* the existence and effect of mental illness, not guilty by reason of insanity.

This defense should work the opposite way in considering incitement to violence. A sane person needs to affirm the existence and effect of mental illness in judging the appropriateness of their rhetoric. Therefore, if your violent rhetoric incites violence by insane people, you are guilty of incitement by reason of insanity.

However, as a civil libertarian, I agree that the appeal to expectations of reasonable behavior is important.

Ultimately, the standard of reasonableness should be applied to political rhetoric.

In sum, I profoundly support prosecution of incitement.

Posted by: lroberts1 | January 10, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Can we repeat the fact that, according to the shooter's own statements, videos, and web pages, that right-wing rhetoric appears to have had little to no effect on his motivations?

It really doesn't matter how 'vitriolic' Sarah Palin is if there's no evidence the shooter gave two cents for anything Palin had to say. And there ISN'T. He was more like an anarchist conspiracy theorist crackpot than any sort of Palinite conservative.

Posted by: tjk1 | January 10, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"Being mentally ill is not a sufficient explanation. Why did this mentally ill person choose this congressman as a target? Why a politician at all, and why this one? Obviously, the inflammatory rhetoric claiming the country was being enslaved and suggesting armed response was needed provides the context in which this insane person acted. The violent rhetoric of the right does not need to be taken up by a "sane" individual before it has its vicious effect. Indeed the first whose actions are likely to be influenced by the atmosphere will be the most unstable individuals. You have no business letting the Republicans off the hook on this just because the shooter was crazy.

And I also agree with the other commenter, who asks how you can possibly make the statement that the Republicans who made the statements about guns and so forth are all sick to their stomachs tonight. That's a nice thing to believe, as is believing in Santa Claus, but I can't see that you have any reason or evidence behind that belief, just a wish to claim that the Republicans who said such horrible things must really be decent human beings deep inside. You don't know what they are inside. And you can't know. As that famous book says, you shall know them by their fruits. And this is the fruit of their labor."

Posted by: kenm3 | January 8, 2011 9:53 PM

My thoughts exactly, but better said than I would've, kenm3.

Posted by: youaresquishy | January 10, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Ezra if you spent one week watching Glen Beck and Bill O'Riley you would know that all the excuses you make for not holding the right responsible for these shootings are completely invalid. The "catch" phrases this boy and many of the masses use for their arguments are almost always direct quotes from both of these "men", and I use that term lightly and little miss Sarah. If she wants to keeps us all barefoot and pregnant I sure as heck wish she would take herself home and keep herself home in that state. She would do alot less damage that way.

Posted by: victoriahessco7 | January 10, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately, Mr. Klein, your insight here exceeds that of most of the posts to your column. It would seem that your column is more the occasion for opportunistic hate speech and vilification via vitriolic mantras than it is the opportunity to freshly think about the event in question.

Most of the post-ers are simply continuing on, undauntedly trash-talking their opposition. What is significantly enlightening about these comments? In a word, that the posts prove beyond any reasonable doubt that hate is not the sacrosanct domain of the right. I am knee-deep in the left's frothing after reading these comments.

Posted by: jay_thompson | January 10, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"In the first hours after the shooting, however, we didn't know that. And it was scarily easy to tell a story in which an upset citizen had taken the exhortations various political leaders had made in recent years too literally."

Too easy to tell? Or too easy to organize across some kind of email list among bloggers and editors that seem fixated at destroying certain political candidates and movements?

Posted by: cprferry | January 10, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

We have a very angry country right now because of a combination of unemployment, bailouts of the wealthy, racism against the President, and irresponsible rhetoric from the Right.

We should address the sources of that anger via:

1) Massive clean-energy stimulus (rail, nuclear plants, etc) plus some moderate protectionist measures to start getting our folks back to work.

2) Tax hikes on the wealthy.

3) Meaningful regulations for banks and perp walks for those that caused this crisis.

4) Getting the state and federal budgets under control via tax hikes, pension reform, and long-term changes to entitlement programs.

4) Ending the wars.

5) Tax hikes on the wealthy that have benefitted disproportionally.

6) Mortgage reductions to get household debt levels down to pre-bubble levels. Print the money to do so if we must.

7) Covering everyone over 50 under Medicare.

This will take the temperature down a lot once we have a clear path forward.

Posted by: Factified | January 10, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

There were clear signs to those who knew the shooter, at the community college he attended for example, and from his web site, that the guy was unstable. Yet he was able to go buy his gun without any trouble at all. Explain the logic of that to the parents of the 9-year old girl who died. It's just plain immoral, and those in this society who understand that it is immoral share the responsibility for not doing enough to prevent access to guns by the unstable. To those who believe that access to guns by the unstable is ok, you reap what you sow. There's enough shame to go around, but I fear, no action will be taken. Worship at the gun alter is too entrenched.

Posted by: plchouinard | January 10, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

This was not a result of a coherent political view. It has nothing to do with the Tea Party. And by the way, the comment about "fascist Tea Party" politics is totally off base. As has been pointed out numerous times, the left's association with the state brings it much close to fascism than any view on the right.

Posted by: Craig31 | January 11, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

--*We should address the sources of that anger via:*--

Everyone is making me LOL, tonight.

Jamming more people under the government thumb is going to reduce anger in the country?

That's a real knee slapper.

Posted by: msoja | January 11, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

--*[T]he guy was unstable. Yet he was able to go buy his gun without any trouble at all. Explain the logic of that*--

The hive mind has not yet been perfected. Loughner did not walk into the gun shop with a sign around his neck announcing his insanity.

In what way do you think he should have been prevented from buying his gun? Name names. Which of his classmates or friends or teachers or random strangers should have taken the bit in his or her teeth and had Loughner committed? In fact, why didn't YOU do it?

If you're just complaining about guns, ruminate on the fact that gun friendly Tucson has a much lower murder rate than gun-banning (until recently) Chicago and Washington D.C.

Posted by: msoja | January 11, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

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